UPDATED: A Comparison Chart of Twelve Popular Social VR Platforms

UPDATE Nov. 25th: I have updated the comparison chart! You can see it here.

bigfive

From my recent blog reader poll results, I got the following results on who has created user accounts on which social VR spaces:

The “Big Five” social VR platforms

After Second Life and OpenSim, the next biggest section of the reader responses were these five newer social VR platforms:

  • Sansar (149 readers, 8.87%)
  • High Fidelity (145 readers, 8.63%)
  • VRChat (101 readers, 6.01%)
  • Sinespace (83 readers, 4.94%)
  • AltspaceVR (68 readers, 4.05%)

Not far behind were a few more newer competitors

  • Rec Room (54 readers, 3.22%)
  • Somnium Space (53 readers, 3.16%)
  • Bigscreen (35 readers, 2.09%)
  • Facebook Spaces (29 readers, 1.73%)
  • Oculus Rooms (26 readers, 1.55%)
  • vTime (20 readers, 1.19%)
  • TheWaveVR (16 readers, 0.95%)

So, I decided to draw up a detailed comparison chart of just these 12 social VR platforms. Note that in this chart, I excluded platforms that did not have VR support (e.g. Second Life, OpenSim-based virtual worlds).

I also did not dwell on technical details, such as the underlying game engine, user creation tools, etc. Instead, I focused on the three things of most interest to consumers:

  • How you can access the platform;
  • What options do you have for your avatar;
  • And whether you can go shopping!

This print on this chart is a little small to show up on the constrained width of this blogpost, so I saved it as a picture to Flickr. Just click on the chart below (or the link above) to see it in Flickr in full size. You can also use the Flickr magnifying glass to get an even closer look!

Social VR Platform Comparison Chart 22 Oct 2018

You can also download this chart from Flickr in any size up to its original size (1656 x 914 pixels).

If you feel I’ve made any mistakes, or left anything out, please leave me a comment below, thanks! I do hope that people who are trying to figure out which social VR spaces to explore will find this comparison chart useful.

UPDATE Oct. 23rd: Someone on the Virtual Reality subReddit has helpfully pointed out this thread on the official Sansar website’s Feature Requests section, where it would appear that Sansar does now work with Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Sansar user Vassay wrote in July 2018:

After Windows 10 April update, WMR headsets work with Sansar in full scale – meaning all the benefits, including moving your avatar. Tested and confirmed on several systems already.

One thing to be weary is that Sansar works with WMR headsets through SteamVR libraries, so some updates to SteamVR can sometimes break things. But from what I’ve seen, things are mostly stable and work correctly.

Happy VR to all 😉

Also, there is an interesting comment on the discussion thread about this chart over on the High Fidelity user forums:

Clothing in High Fidelity is doable, but is limited at this time to whichever avatar is was made for, since global clothing options isn’t really a thing.

So can you have clothing in High Fidelity? Yes, and not just attachments either. Apparently Ryan forgot that Menithal’s robes are completely separate, that items made in Marvelous [Designer] do work here, or that I had a greeter uniform before all greeters got one…

Menithal in Clothing.jpeg

To which I would reply: Yes, technically you can make clothing for your custom avatar in HiFi (if you have the skills), but there is still no default, dressable avatar for which you can buy clothing from the marketplace, like you already can in both Sinespace and Sansar. Note that I am making a specific distinction between actual avatar clothing that conforms to your body and the simpler avatar attachments (such as hats and wings) currently offered at the in-world stores in High Fidelity.

Second Update: It turns out that Windows Mixed Reality headsets will work with any SteamVR-compatible virtual world. High Fidelity users report they can use their Windows MR headsets to navigate very well in HiFi.

Sansar and the Scary Game Squad Are Having a Scary World Contest for Halloween!

Someone posted the following YouTube video to the Sansar section of the new VirtualVerse.one forums (formerly known as SLUniverse):

The video description states:

This Halloween you get to scare us! We’re teaming up with Project Sansar to showcase awesome user generated content that is in the VR horror world. Built in the spirit of social VR worlds like Second Life (?) and VRChat, here you can construct your very own land of terror. Winners will be on the ground floor of the hotel and we’ll be playing them! Now it says VR, but don’t worry, you don’t need VR in order to do any of this. Download Sansar for free, join the Scary Game Squad hub, and get to creating!

Now, I do not consider Second Life “social VR” (since you can’t experience it in a VR headset), but that’s a minor quibble with the announcement.

The contest runs between now and Oct. 31st. The 10 winners will get 1,000 Sansar dollars and will have their experiences directly linked to this scary hotel experience. You must include the hashtag #SGS in the Sansar experience title, so that the Scary Game Squad knows it’s a contest entry.

The Scary Game Squad (founded by gamer and comedian Jesse Cox, who has almost a million YouTube subscribers to his videos) is a group that exists to play scary games. It makes perfect sense for them to team up with Sansar to promote a scary experience contest! Hopefully, we will get a lot of creative—and scary!—entries.

Linden Lab Issues a Major Update to the Sansar Client, Including Hand Gestures in VR and a New Permissions System!

Sansar logo

This evening, Linden Lab launched what they are calling the Body Language release of Sansar. Among the highlights of this major client software update are:

  • Avatars in VR can now utilise the full range of hand gestures that the Oculus Touch hand controllers provide — thumbs up, okay signs, and finger guns. Avatars in VR can also now bend at their torsos and crouch. More information is in this article. (Apparently, HTC Vive users are going to have to wait a little while for feature parity with Oculus Rift/Touch users.) Please note that you will only be able to see your own hand gestures when in third-person mode in VR (you have to click down once on the right-hand Oculus Touch thumbstick to switch between first-person mode and third-person mode when in VR). Here’s a short video demonstrating this very cool new feature, created by Linden Lab employee Aleks:
  • The long-awaited and frequently requested permissions system is finally here! This enables a broad range of capabilities for content creators, especially those interested in selling items in the Sansar Store. See the new Linden Lab articles Allowing resale of store items and Buyer’s Permissions for more information. When editing a listing for one of your items in the Sansar Store, you can now choose to allow buyers to resell your item, either on its own or as part of one of their creations. When you choose to allow this, you must set a minimum resale price. Then, whenever someone resells your creation, you receive the resale price as a commission! (Note that legacy Store items default to no resale, since the option wasn’t there for the creators to choose from. If you made the item, you should be able to change it to resellable. If you didn’t make it, the creator will have to relist the item on the Sansar Store.)
  • And to make that even easier to sell all of your items, the Sansar Store is now fully integrated into Sansar! You can do all your shopping in Sansar without having to open the web store. (It’s still not the same as having in-world stores like Second Life, High Fidelity, and Sinespace do, though.)
  • When working with an object in a scene, you can now add grab points, which define the position and orientation of the object in an avatar’s hand when they pick it up in VR or desktop mode. This is helpful for ensuring that handheld objects such as weapons, tools, and other handheld accessories snap into the correct orientation as soon as they’re held. For more information, see this article.
  • There’s a new voice indicator which makes it easier for you to tell who’s speaking (this can be turned on or off as you wish):
    voiceindicator.gif
  • The in-client chat app has a new look as well as a few new features, including supporting SHIFT+ENTER to make a new line, and CTRL+A to select all text (Yay!).
  • Voice broadcast: You can now enable voice broadcasting in your scene by streaming it through the scene background sound or audio emitters. This is a significant upgrade for live events in Sansar!

And these are just the highlights! There’s much more! Here’s the complete list of new features. Congratulations to Ebbe Altberg and his team for the impressive amount of work they put into this new release!

Sansar Pick of the Day: Value in the Virtual at ArkDes

Value in the Virtual at ArkDes 1 27 Sept 2018.png

A real-world art exhibition in Stockholm, Sweden has a virtual counterpart in Sansar. The Architect’s Newspaper reports:

…Value in the Virtual, an exhibit by London-based Space Popular, blossoms with a polychrome array of signs, patterns, and symbols. The show has just opened at Sweden’s national center for architecture and design, ArkDes, under its new director Kieran Long. A new feature of the museum is a smaller gallery space—Boxen, a steel box designed by local practice Dehlin Brattgård—inside one of the two main exhibition halls. It is intended for fast-paced architecture shows curated by former ArchDaily editor James Taylor-Foster, and Value in the Virtual is the first display of work by a contemporary design practice in the new setup.

Entering the exhibition space, you are invited to take your shoes off (to experience the printed carpets on the floors), and once inside, to put on a pair of virtual reality goggles. They are a window into Voxen, a parallel version of the same gallery space produced for Sansar, a social virtual reality platform. During the press preview, an online visitor had already found his way there for a peek. The avatar, dressed in a black bodysuit and a Daft Punk motorcycle helmet, showed up out of nowhere, mumbled a distorted “nice to meet you,” and soon disappeared.

In this realm, you get 3-D views of some of Space Popular’s scenarios: one is a version of Stockholm where public art is updated by the minute; in another the allegorical wall mosaics of the Nobel Prize venue are adjusted to tout recent scientific achievements; and in another a selective nightclub bouncer might actually let you in after all, if you upgrade to a nicer-looking “skin.”

The Sansar experience still seems to be under construction; there is a large empty area in the back. But there is already much to see and appreciate here.

The experience description in the Sansar Atlas reads as follows:

Welcome to the virtual experience of Space Popular’s exhibition at ArkDes in Stockholm.

The exhibition “Value in the Virtual” explores the challenges and possibilities for architecture, design and city planning as buildings and cities will soon get virtual layers when VR and AR devices are increasingly used in pubic.

Visitors can see the physical exhibition at in the gallery BOXEN at ArkDes in Stockholm between the 19h of September – 18th of November. Through the physical exhibition visitors can also visit the virtual exhibition through a headset available in the centre of the space creating the possibility for cross reality interaction.

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.

Space Popular is based in London and led by Architects Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg.

Here’s a link to the Value in the Virtual at ArkDes experience.